Online learning continued to grow exponentially in 2016, partially fueled by companies like Udemy, Lynda.com and Coursera, all of whom offer extensive catalogs of courses. More and more students are finding that they can acquire the necessary job skills to land a new job by utilizing this form of online content. And with employers more willing to accept that this type of courseware is necessary, we expect other related trends to emerge.
So the first big trend you’re likely to see in 2017 is not what you might expect:
1. Education Hacking
The churn in technology advancement – both software and hardware – leaves a lot of traditional educational facilities in a tough spot. Most times, universities and colleges find that their courseware is being rapidly obsolesced by new advancements that occur in 9-12 month increments.
An example of this rapid obsolescence can be seen with some of the new cloud computing companies. Amazon Web Services boasted that they have over 700 significant changes to their cloud computing infrastructure each year. That means that if you’re going to participate in that arena, you can’t expect to find that content in traditional degree courses. Those venues are necessarily slowed down by the entire credentialing process that most universities and colleges face. In many cases the credentialing process for higher education takes longer than the next revision of technology to appear.
So that leads to next big trend we’ll see in 2017:
2. Technology Boot Camps
These are coding boot camps that compress the learning process into weeks instead of semesters. Their popularity has spread quickly with venues like General Assembly who have opened up campuses throughout the country to meet demand.
But don’t count the universities out just yet. Many entities are expected to announce their own versions of these technology boot camps, which offer professional courses versus credential courses to their students. The University of Phoenix has launched one such venture called Red Flint, in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can expect to see them increase that capability as they re-tool to be more responsive to current trends.
With demand for traditional campus degrees waning – especially in the technology arena – attention is turning to non-traditional “micro credentials.” These are non-degree courses that offer expertise in niche areas like technology, but also other areas where there is a shortage of talent. These courses cost a fraction of typical education venues and can be stacked to create a customized educational experience, i.e., the “hacked” education venue.
With more employers warming to online certificates, and people changing jobs more often, expect this particular trend to grow exponentially. In an age where there is continuous change, the need for continuous learning is a foregone conclusion.
This is expected to be another area where we’ll see greater growth, as evidenced by the agreement between Amazon and the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday, January 19th. This particular program announced an apprenticeship program to train veterans for tech jobs at Amazon. One of the unique benefits of this type of program is that the veterans can earn a salary while learning the skills needed for the job.
We expect other major software and technology companies to follow this trend, and see apprenticeships taking on a more important role as we move to other sectors of the population besides veterans. These transitional programs should be welcomed by young families struggling to pay the bills while continuing to keep up with the changes in technology.
5. Bricks and Clicks
We see this as a more accepted venue as educators in the corporate space focus on the unique job roles that have to be brought up to speed across their enterprises and ecosystem. While it was pretty easy to dump everything into the classroom venue in the past, the huge economies of blending online training with classroom venues will continue to push this trend further.
We expect that the ultimate solution in the next few years will be the enactment of the 20/80 model. That model suggests that 20% of the training will occur in the classroom, while 80% of the training is being provided by a combination of online and embedded learning – the latter of which is training within an application, or like in the Amazon apprenticeship program, right on the warehouse floor where employees can access the training at the point of need.